SVC on Twitter    SVC on Facebook    SVC on LinkedIn

 

University AV: From Luxury to Necessity

New AV technology continues to march through colleges and universities despite economic upheaval. More than ever, universities see the value in bringing high-resolution presentation systems and online collaboration tools to educate the 21st century workforce faster, better, and more affordably.

New AV technology continues to march through colleges and universities despite economic upheaval. More than ever, universities see the value in bringing high-resolution presentation systems and online collaboration tools to educate the 21st century workforce faster, better, and more affordably. Widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio display systems are among the biggest technology trends, as schools seek to make projectors and screens conform to the standard on notebook computers. Hardware vendors and integrators also say a move to real-time monitoring and support of AV assets over networks is sweeping college campuses.

The broader wave that brings collaborative, democratized instruction to a once-stodgy world continues unabated, if the following case studies are an indication.

Temple's Alter Hall: AV from the Ground Up

Students in Temple's Alter Hall enjoy the benefits of digital AV. Everything that happens in the classroom is recorded for later on Sonic Foundry servers.

Students in Temple's Alter Hall enjoy the benefits of digital AV. Everything that happens in the classroom is recorded for later on Sonic Foundry servers.

Credit: Labolito, Manning And Brandenberg, Temple Creative Services

Few institutions can hope to match the tech-saturated panache of Alter Hall, the new seven-story, 217,000-foot building that opened at Philadelphia's Temple University Fox School of Business in January. "There's a 'wow' around every corner," says Paul Igoe, account manager for integrator Total Video Products.

Designed by architect Michael Graves, Alter screams high-tech the minute you walk in, so much so that CNBC devoted rare live coverage to its opening. A 15-by-15-foot videowall, fed by a Visix AxisTV server over Category-5 cables, welcomes visitors with promotional images. A 177-foot-wide, eight-color LED stock ticker traverses the beams of the student lounge, and there's a stock-trading lab and 300-seat auditorium.

"We've got digital signage throughout the building," says Larry Philbrick, supervisory consultant for Boston-based AV design firm Acentech. An atrium features a 6,400-pound globe that rests on what Philbrick calls a "water bearing"–a thin film of water at its base. "You just rotate it by pushing on it," he says.

Alter Hall

Alter Hall

Credit: Labolito, Manning And Brandenberg, Temple Creative Services

John Deangelo, Fox School's assistant dean of instructional technology, says he is most proud of the way the wireless networking, furniture, and overall ambience encourage students to kick back and work comfortably on their laptops in Alter's numerous lounge-like spaces.

Lecture capture and Web streaming are central to the hall's vision. Most spaces are video equipped, and Sonic Foundry Mediasite RL Recorders were installed in 30 classrooms in Alter and adjoining Speakman Hall. "The ubiquity is what makes it unique," says Sean Brown, Sonic Foundry's vice president of education.

"Basically, everything the professor says and the student says is recorded, so you can go home at night and view that class again," Igoe says. Deangelo hopes to use Mediasite to enhance communication with worldwide partners by delivering content across time zones while reducing instructor travel. The university already used Echo360 capture stations elsewhere but switched to Mediasite when Echo360 couldn't deliver an upgrade in time, he says.

Deangelo says it was a challenge to ensure the hardware that feeds content to Mediasite was working properly. If the battery in a wireless mic failed, the recording might miss the instructor's entire audio feed, or a tracking camera might lag behind some scenes.

Signal distribution, much of it over Magenta Research transmitters and Cat-5, makes content sharing among rooms nearly seamless. "You can take any signal from any room and redirect it to any other space," says Deangelo, adding that a vendor who attended the opening was able to broadcast its signal to the videowall and other displays.

Most rooms have dual plasma screens that are angled to optimize views for people in the corners. Philbrick says Acentech worked with the architect to build a "hinged," or splayed wall design.

Sometimes AV input came too late in the design process. The MBA commons called for projectors to be built into walls, which didn't allow cooling. So thermostatic controls, fans, and ducts were added to divert air to the plenum space above the ceiling. Total Video technicians say early involvement in the planning and a good relationship with contractors made work go smoothly. "They would tell us they were going to close up walls in three days," says Jason Kane, Total Video's project manager. "We were able to avoid the need to cut up walls." Closets for equipment racks were designed into every room, with some rooms built expressly for AV, and walls pre-cut for projectors.

AMX equipment–the Temple University standard–controls each room's AV system. Podiums are motorized to move 18 inches vertically and 17-inch ONE Monitor touch screens provide annotation capabilities.

Students can schedule the 26 breakout rooms from a Web browser using AMX Meeting Manager software. Authentication in the software separates undergrad from MBA access to certain rooms, and Deangelo hopes soon to integrate secure card access.

Crown amplifiers, ClearOne DSPs, JBL speakers, and Clockaudio, Shure, and Revolabs microphones anchor the audio, along with Sennheiser assisted listening. Voice lifting in every room emanates from ceiling speakers. Vaddio ControlVIEW infrared tracking tell the Vaddio PTZCAM 70 pan-tilt-zoom cameras when someone enters the field of view. All 17 case-study rooms have power connections in tables and wireless networks for students.

Top to bottom, Alter Hall is a showcase not just for the glitz of AV, but also its potential to transform higher education.



1 2 3 Next
Browse Back Issues
BROWSE ISSUES
  September 2014 Sound & Video Contractor Cover August 2014 Sound & Video Contractor Cover July 2014 Sound & Video Contractor Cover June 2014 Sound & Video Contractor Cover May 2014 Sound & Video Contractor Cover April 2014 Sound & Video Contractor Cover  
September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014